Posts tagged counseling rancho cucamonga
Have you lost, YOU?
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What happens when your relationship becomes all about US? When everything revolves around the collective of the two of you? Or if you’re a parenting couple, what happens when everything becomes about the kids?

I’ll tell you that so many of my clients come to see me because they are having difficulty in their long-term relationships. The number one thing they name as the issue is, “communication.”

While that may seem like the biggest issue on the surface of the relationship as I work to dig and peel back the layers of what’s happening for many couples, it becomes apparent to both them, and me, that communication is the issue, but the reason they are unable to communicate quickly becomes the focus.

One of the reasons I find that people are unhappy is because they’ve just lost touch with themselves.

In the beginning of a relationship they say they completely knew who they were, but after years of being with the same person and many times after having kids, they start to forget.

Conversations become logistical – What time are you coming home? Can we fit in that dinner with friends next Friday? What’s your schedule like tomorrow?

While those conversations are important because - hello, we need to eat and end up in the same places to even have a relationship, it becomes apparent that the conversations that brought you together, the ones that involved depth and feeling have dwindled.

You might be saying, “we’ve gotten those all out of the way, there’s no need for them anymore,” but I beg to differ.

Especially if you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you’ve grown and changed since you first began that relationship. You might have attained all of those goals you once dreamed of, and since created new ones.

Or maybe since you’ve obtained them you’ve just been coasting, and in that case it’s time to create new ones. But it’s easy to fall into a rut and that’s where many people feel like they’ve lost themselves.

It’s crazy to sit back and think, “damn I did everything I said I would – we have the house, the career, the kids,” whatever it was that you dared to dream together. Maintaining the career, the kids, the house then becomes very routine, and you lose touch with each other – at least that’s what I hear more times than not.

Monotony has a way of killing that spark that leads to dreaming and deep conversations.

Assess your relationship today. You might be having difficulty communicating, but what’s under that? Is there just nothing to talk about aside from the logistics? That’s a mundane and frustrating place to be.

If you’re raising your hand and feeling like you’re in that camp you’re so not alone! It happens in even the best of relationships. So of course I’m going to challenge you to start dreaming again, and start sharing those dreams with your partner.

But in order to get that part of you back you have to change things up.

What did you once love that you’ve just stopped doing? Did you play on a sports team? Did you get your creative juices flowing on canvas? Was the gym once your retreat? Think about what used to make you feel like you, and then make time to get back to it.

Time might be short, and maintaining your life might seem like it sucks all of your energy, but I guarantee that if you don’t overthink it, and just get back on that horse you’ll see how that benefits you and your ability to show up for your partner. After a while you’ll get back your ability to dream and share those dreams like you once used to.

If you feel like you’re in a rut and don’t see the way out, I’d love to chat with you and see how I can help. You can check my schedule here and we can hop on the phone for a short chat about how we might be able to work together to get you back on track. I’d love to hear from you!

New Year, New Relationship?
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Happy New Year! We’ve all heard, “New Year, new me,” right? Well what if 2018 marked the start of a new relationship for you and your partner?

Whether you want to put 2017 behind you because you’re working to rebuild trust or because you just know that you need to put more effort into your relationship, I want to invite you to let this mark the start of a new relationship.

In our culture adults often have more than one significant relationship in their lifetimes. People divorce and remarry, end long term relationships, and start over again. But what if you decided that you’d have a new relationship with the same partner?

What do you think that would look like? Would you have more connection? Less arguments? Improved communication?

Hitting the reset button is totally possible. It’s something I highly recommend not just for the New Year, but anytime you feel stuck in old ways of interacting that you know aren’t working. That’s the beautiful thing about being human. We will inevitably make mistakes, but there’s nothing that says we have to stay stuck in those mistakes.

There are a few ways to hit the reset button that I’d like to share with you, and most of them have to do with mindset.

1.     First thing’s first - you have to make the decision to be gentle on yourself. How long have you been in your relationship? How long have you been operating and relating in the same patterns?

The answers will vary for everyone, but it’s likely been a while. We get stuck in ruts, and it’s easy to go on autopilot, and slip back into old patterns, but the key is not staying there.

Once you decide you are going to make a change, be mindful of it, but don’t attach any judgment about it when you fall back into your old pattern.

For example, if you decide that you’re going to ask for a time-out when you feel yourself getting overly emotional from now on, but on your first attempt you let your anger get the best of you and ask for that time-out much later than you would have liked, it really does no good to then berate yourself for not sticking to your plan.

Instead, acknowledge that it happened, take a couple deep breaths and look forward. Dwelling on what you did wrong will only keep you stuck.

2.     My second tip is don’t try to change too much all at once. If you envision your relationship looking completely different, and vow to change 10 things in the next week, you’ll likely fail.

It’s best to pick one or two things that will have the biggest impact and nail those things for a period of time before you move on to the next.

One of my colleagues is a personal trainer, and she once told me to make a fitness goal that’s almost too easy not to complete. Getting back to an exercise routine after having a baby is daunting, and so I took her advice and decided I’d do 10 minutes of exercise three times a week. I mean, who doesn’t have 10 minutes to take a walk, do some crunches, or lunges?

Once I started hitting my goal it made me want to do more, and I got all the positive vibes from accomplishing my goals, even if they were small.

The point is that this approach helps to build momentum. What is something small that’s almost too easy to complete when it comes to your relationship? Is it a text a day, a check in every night, an extra hug, or compliment? Start with something small and meaningful and move forward from there.

3.     My final tip is to choose something that will have the greatest impact. This can seem daunting, but you might not be breaking it down enough. If you want to have fewer arguments in your relationship, not bringing things up that bother you isn’t going to do you or your partner any good. But can you think of something that kills a few birds with just one single stone?

If you want less conflict you’re likely also craving more connection. So can you schedule a date or block out some time to connect on a regular basis? It may not necessarily be about doing less of something, but rather, adding something to your relationship that will have a big impact.

When you have more connection and build your friendship, conflict has a way of decreasing. 

Of course this is just one example, but no matter what your relationship goals are, I have just the ticket for you! Beginning February 1, I’m going to be doing a Relationship Refresh and in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day I’ll send you a tip each day that will help you move your relationship in the right direction. This is something you won’t want to miss, so sign up here.

For this Relationship Refresh I’ll be taking my own advice and sharing small things that I’ve found to have the biggest impact, so don’t worry about getting so much info that you won’t be able to complete it all. I hope you’ll join me!

Cheers to a new year and a new relationship! 

How to date your Spouse
8 ways to have a great experience in Couples Counseling

So you’ve decided to work on your relationship, and get some assistance from a therapist, kudos! Or maybe you’re still on the fence, questioning whether it’s the right time, and wondering what the process is like, check out my previous post to determine if now is the time.  

While couples therapists can't necessarily gurantee the exact outcome of your relationship, here are 8 things you can do to understand the process and have a great expereince regardless of what happens between you and your partner: 

1.     Find a therapist who specializes in working with couples.

Think of it as you would with your regular health care. If you were to walk up to a clinic to see a doctor, and on the door a sign read, “Specializing in all ailments, from A-Z,” I’m not sure about you, but that wouldn’t elicit very much confidence in me that I had someone who truly specialized in what I was looking for.

There are many generalist therapists, and many of them are wonderful, however if I’m looking for help with my eyesight I’m going to go see an optometrist because that’s their specialization. The best way to find out a therapist’s specialization is to ask them over the phone before setting your appointment. If you’ve already set an appointment you can use the first session to ask any questions you might have about their specialization, and the way they work with couples.

2.     Ask about the process.

Walking in to a first session can feel overwhelming, and you might not know what to expect. Most therapists use the first session as a opportunity to get to know you, and some will do what’s call an intake, where they ask many background questions that may not seem specific to your presenting issue, but are still important.

Others may include an intake questionnaire in their initial paperwork and have you complete it prior to coming to your first session. Either way, asking about what to expect for your first session over the phone or by email before walking in the door will help to alleviate some of the anxiety that can come up when you start couples counseling.

3.     Use the first few sessions to learn more about the therapist’s process and gauge for good chemistry.

One of the most important parts of therapy is the relationship you will have with your therapist and it is often one of the best predictors of successful treatment. If you’re not totally comfortable, be sure to let the therapist know what it is that’s causing you discomfort. This will give the therapist an opportunity to address your feelings, and change course if necessary. 

4.     Take notes.

A lot can be discussed in a single session and because you can get caught up in the emotions that you’re bringing in to session, it’s important to write down any recommendations your therapist may be making including homework that they may request you do throughout the week.

5.     Follow through with any homework that’s being given.

This may seem pretty obvious, but many clients forget and show up to their next session without working on things at home. Life can get in the way but if your relationship is important, then the things that your therapists is asking you and your partner to work on throughout the week will only help you reach your goals quicker. Some things may feel uncomfortable and are in fact designed to get you out of your comfort zone and to try things you may not have in the past. Trust in the process and do your best to complete tasks assigned in therapy.

6.     Know that sometimes things can get worse before they get better.

You will likely be touching on things in session that are uncomfortable. They may be things you and your partner may have been avoiding due to the difficult emotions those topics bring up. It’s normal to find yourself feeling a little down in the beginning of therapy, so be sure to take notice of what you’re feeling between sessions in order to discuss them with your couples therapist and ask for recommendations about dealing with those emotions between sessions.

7.     Continue to provide your therapist with feedback.

While many couples therapists make it avhabit to periodically check in with their clients about their level of satisfaction, some may not, but remember that you are the consumer and have the right to bring up any concerns or questions about the course of your treatment. If there’s something they haven’t addressed that you’d like to discuss let them know. A good couples therapist will be happy to accommodate or address any issues you may have.

8.     Check in with your partner regularly regarding your progress in therapy.

It’s easy to get caught up in doing the work and engaging in the process of couples therapy, but in couples therapy there are two customers. Be sure to check in with your partner about how they feel things are going throughout the process. You may feel like you and the therapist are really hitting it off, but if your partner isn’t feeling the same, it should be addressed with the therapist. Again, the relationship between the therapist and clients tend to determine the outcome of therapy.

It’s also important to remember that while therapists are professionals and have many years of training that have helped prepare them for working with you and your partner, they are also human. Most therapists I know are life-long learners who are happy to make any adjustments needed to be sure you feel like you are getting the best services possible, but they don’t know what isn’t shared with them. Having an open relationship with your couples therapist is a beautiful thing, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and provide feedback!

If you’re looking for a couples therapist in the Rancho Cucamonga area, I’m happy to help. Feel free to reach out by phone or email and we can talk about ways couples counseling might benefit you. 

Is date-night really that important for married couples?

Having a regular date-night is probably one of the most basic prescriptions given out by couple’s therapists, and it’s also one of the most commonly ignored. I think that’s because it’s so basic in nature that it leaves couples wondering how important it really is.

When it was just my husband and I, we didn’t really need a date night. Every night was date night. It was just the two of us, and not much really got in the way of us spending our evenings together. We’d have dinner together at home or out at one of our favorite restaurants, and even if we didn’t go out we’d do something fun together.

In the early days when we were on a tight budget and living in a tiny apartment, we’d play board games, play video games, and watch tons of shows on Netflix. Now that we have kids, I look back at those times and I honestly can’t believe how many shows we used to keep up with. These days I’m lucky to have one show!

When we had kids things changed dramatically! It was no longer just the two of us, and we started to get disconnected. Being a couple’s therapist, I was hypersensitive to this disconnection, and recognized that I had to practice what I preached so we started doing date-nights two times a month.

Our relationship had evolved, like so many couples that I work with. Adding children and businesses to our lives added so much richness, but it also added craziness, lack of sleep, and shifts in our priorities.

That disconnection that started to happen very subtly is something that I see so many couples experience. But they aren’t as sensitive to it, and it often goes unnoticed for long periods of time. The continual focus on things other than that primary relationship causes distance between couples. They stop connecting, laughing, and sharing their inner worlds with one another.

I recently read an article on Facebook about why date-nights are a waste of time, the author was a mom, and she listed all of the excuses that I hear most people give when trying to plan a date-night – the cost, the need for a babysitter, having to get out of your yoga pants, etc. and while I can attest to having those hang-ups myself, I have to call B.S. on those excuses! 

When you stop dating your partner you leave the door open to lack of connection.

Date-night doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to take place at night. It can be Sunday morning walk on a weekly basis, or a lunch together during the workweek – I’m actually an even bigger fan of those times because then no one falls asleep during a movie or on the way home.

The point of a regular date with your partner is the connection.

It’s talking and getting back to who you were before life got too busy. Even when couples don’t have kids, they often mistake time together as quality time. Just because you occupy the same space day in and day out doesn’t mean that you’re connecting. You could be in the living room, and your partner could spend the evening in the bedroom on their laptop, and do that for weeks on end. You’re experiencing two totally disconnected realities even in the same space.

Date-night is really that important.

It represents friendship. We often grant our friends an incredible amount of grace when it comes to disagreements and misunderstandings, and that’s exactly how we should treat our partners. But you have to have that relationship established in order to do so.

Here are my top tips for scheduling date-night successfully:

1.     Choose a reoccurring day and time that works for both of you.

2.     Get a shared calendar, and mark that day and time weekly or every other week.

3.     Guard this date the same way you would if you had an important doctor’s appointment – it’s funny how we can leave work early, fight traffic, and do whatever else we need to do for such appointments – this is how you approach date-night as well.

4.     Shoot for twice a month, or once a week if you can swing it.

5.     If you don’t have a babysitter talk with other couple friends who may also be lacking a date-night, and offer to swap kids every other week.

6.     Have fun planning. Switch off planning every other date, and surprise one another with an evening out, or even at home.

7.     Be creative, and remember, it’s not about the cost; it’s about the connection!

8.     Use websites like Groupon, Living Social, or Goldstar for cost-saving ideas.

And that’s that. Get your date on, start connecting, and remember that friendship should come first. If you get stuck and just can’t seem to get into the groove of dating your partner, feel free to reach out to me (909) 226-6124. I’m happy to help.